Material to prevent Zika infection by mosquitoes are displayed at the 69th World Health Assembly at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23, 2016. (Reuters)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has issued a call for the people of the region to help fight the spread of mosquitoes.
The Caribbean is observing Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week 2019.
“Mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest animal and carry diseases which are bad for business and our health. Mosquito borne diseases stress our region’s health care systems, threaten social and economic development, and negatively impact our tourism industry,” said CARPHA Executive Director, Dr C. James Hospedales.
The World Health Organisation has indicated that the dengue virus alone threatens approximately 3.9 billion people in over 128 countries.
Under the slogan "Fight the Bite, Destroy Mosquito Breeding Sites", Mosquito Awareness Week focuses on mosquito borne diseases and risks associated with them.
Climate variability can influence the number of persons exposed to mosquito-borne diseases. As the rainy season approaches, mosquito control and awareness activities need to be intensified. Significant rainfall can lead to a proliferation of mosquito breeding sites, increased mosquito populations and an increased risk of disease transmission.
“The best way to "fight the bite" is to be on the lookout for standing water and clean up our surroundings. The two most important things to control mosquito populations in our Caribbean countries are to manage water storage drums and tanks, and properly dispose of used vehicle tires to prevent mosquitoes breeding,” said Rajesh Ragoo, Senior Technical Officer, responsible for Vector Borne Diseases Prevention and Control at CARPHA.
It is also important to minimise exposure to mosquito bites especially for vulnerable populations such as infants, young children, older adults and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
CARPHA urges all to work as a team to reduce the mosquito populations.
“We need to be more engaging in our battle against mosquito borne diseases which do not recognise boundaries. It means a regional intersectoral approach, greater collaboration between government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and community groups,” said Dr Hospedales.
The Agency provides support to its Member States by enhancing regional surveillance, and the Agency’s capacity for testing mosquito borne diseases and monitoring regional and global developments.
Dr Laura-Lee Boodram, Head of Vector borne Diseases said: “We focus on strengthening capacity in our countries to detect prevent and control the spread of mosquito borne illness, which also involves limiting the spread of mosquito vectors. We are implementing advanced molecular diagnostic laboratory techniques, such as, to better characterise mosquito borne viruses and improve public health prevention and control measures.”
Additionally, the Agency provides valuable information that can help in the prevention and control of mosquito-borne diseases, spread by the Aedes aegypti, the common vector for Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, and Yellow Fever.
Another area of concern is the possible re-emergence of Malaria in the Region. Malaria, spread by the Anopheles mosquito, was eliminated from most of the Caribbean when global eradication efforts were undertaken in the 1950s and 1960s. The disease is endemic in the Dominican Republic and the CARPHA Member States of Belize, Haiti, Guyana and Suriname. However, few countries have already reported an increase in imported cases of Malaria.
The Agency has developed Mission Mosquito, an innovative information toolkit, which includes animated videos, posters and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about mosquito borne diseases. The toolkit is specially packaged to meet the needs of a diverse audience, which include public health professionals and clinicians, pregnant women, and children. The toolkit is available at http://missionmosquito.carpha.org/
Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week was declared at the 17th Special Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in November 2014 on Public Health Threats and is an important reminder to the general public to take action to reduce their risk of diseases spread by mosquitoes. CMAW is observed annually during the second week of May. More information about Caribbean Mosquito Awareness can be found here: http://caribbeanmosquitoweek.carpha.org